RTTNews - Japan saw a merchandise trade balance of 380.2 billion yen in July, the Ministry of Finance said on Wednesday, slightly below the 390 billion yen surplus forecast following the revised 507.5 billion surplus in June.

July exports decreased 36.5 percent compared to a year earlier, versus forecasts for a 38.4 percent annual decline after the 35.7 percent contraction in June. Exports fell 1.3 percent on month for the first monthly drop in two months.

Imports in July declined 40.8 percent on year, beating expectations for a 42.5 percent annual decline after the 41.9 percent fall in the previous month.

Energy sources were a major factor for the decline in imports. The import of crude oil in Japan came in at 17.7 million kiloliters in July, marking a decline of 12.7 percent on year. The import bill was 741 billion yen, the data showed, down an annual 58.7 percent - mostly due to the global decline in the price of crude oil compared to the corresponding period last year. Coal imports came in at 14.6 million tons, down 16.5 percent on year. LNG imports were at 5.38 million tons, down 11.2 percent on year. The import of gasoline and naphtha stood at 2.45 million kiloliters, up an annual 9.9 percent.

Japan reported a trade surplus with all of Asia of 700.9 billion yen, down 24.1 percent on year. With China alone, Japan saw a trade deficit of 54.0 billion yen, down 27.2 percent on year.

Japan recorded a U.S. trade surplus of 333.08 billion yen, down 44.5 percent on year, while the trade surplus with Europe totaled 104.0 billion yen, down 72.1 percent on year.

The adjusted trade balance reflected a surplus of 194.5 billion yen - significantly lower than forecasts for a 342 billion surplus following the revised 374.1 billion yen surplus in June.

Also on Wednesday, an index measuring corporate service prices in Japan was down 3.4 percent on year in July, the Bank of Japan said in a preliminary report, posting an index score of 92.6 for the largest percentage decline on record. The decline was in line with analyst expectations and it followed a 3.2 percent annual contraction in June.

On a monthly basis, prices were down 0.2 percent after adding 0.4 percent in the previous month. The transportation and leasing sectors led the decline in prices, while information services saw modest gains.

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